In wildest dreams, it never occurred to me that one day I’d write a piece referencing three bigger-than-life personalities. This day, I am.

Two of the three are valued friends whose names are well-known in Texas, and the third I’ve never met.

There’s nothing gained by keeping readers in suspense (as if I ever do), but here’s the trio: Dr. Mamie McCullough, a humorous, motivational speaker and author long admired, and Texas A&M’s and the old Southwest Conference’s winningest football coach R.C. Slocum. Oh, the third? She’s Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a radio talk show host and author. I never met her, read her or can measure the merit of her responses to telephone “call-ins.” I believe, though, that her daily closing admonition--”Now go do the right thing”--is good medicine. That’s what Dr. McCullough and Coach Slocum have done for more than a half-century, and they’re still at it….

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Mamie has done so flamboyantly--“glitzed up” head-to-toe--at lecterns, speaking largely at educational and church gatherings nationally. R. C. is more of an “overalls and brogans” guy who has coached “life, then football” like few others on the planet.

Both are refreshing news items that stand out glowingly among too much “slimy stuff” about man’s inhumanity to man.

Hers was about her 80th birthday. Six dozen “family and friends” gathered at a Frisco luncheon, some to see what Dr. McCullough had chosen from resale shop purchases for party adornment. The other “news”--received grandly by true fans of college football--is that Slocum has been named interim athletic director at his beloved Texas A&M University. At 74, he and Mamie’s lifelong mantra has been doing the right thing. AND, wonder of wonders, the beloved Aggie coach who was head man for 14 seasons never had an agent, and still doesn’t!...

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Decked out in a pant suit as white as her hair, Mamie “glittered with gold.” She dazzled as she worked the room, laughing about life today. “At my age, if I can’t hide it, I decorate it,” she joked.

I’ve known her since she rode on a bus from dirt-poor upbringing on a Georgia farm, where her late mother, a widow, raised nine children, all under age 17 when Mamie’s dad died.

Arriving at Howard Payne University in Brownwood Texas--where older sister Martha already was in school--she didn’t know that you “majored, or minored or paid.” She knew, though, that late President and Mrs. Guy D. Newman loved students, and would see her through. Many of us felt that way….

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Tributes to Mamie were many, far too many to condense. She has done so much for so long for so many, including the upbringing of three children—Patti, Brian and Jennifer, ages 8, 6 and 5 when Mamie was widowed at age 42.

I don’t know her college major, but her major in life has been giving, encouraging, supporting and guiding.

Covered by all that “glitz” is her “can do” spirit that continues like the unending sound of drums from deep in a forest, urging the rest of us to “be all we can be.”…

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The world--as well as her former colleague--the imitable, late Zig Ziglar--has taught Mamie much. And she shares--as does Slocum--what is biblical, what is important and what needs to be done.

Mamie can joke, and she can take jokes. She cackled upon hearing a four-line poem read at her party: “I join mortals and angels, praising Mamie with sweetest of songs, but agreeing with some of her audiences, that much of her bling should be ‘blonged’.”

At age 60, she claimed to “really by 59.95,” and two decades later, she thinks “79.95” is more palatable. She’s the best. So is R.C. Both stand for “the right things.”…

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Dr. Don Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments or inquiries to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Ph.: 817-447-3872. Web: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury. 

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